Theater students give life to old plays

Photo by Rachel Anderson

The Butler Lyric Theatre is presenting two, one-act operas from the 20th century later this week.

Samuel Barber’s extremely short opera “A Hand of Bridge” starts the program off for the group, followed by Giacomo Puccini’s 50-minute “Gianni Schicchi,” the most frequently performed work of his Il Trittico trio of operas.

Nicole Vasconi, a sophomore arts administration major who is part of the Lyric Theatre group, said she was excited to see the audience’s reaction to the performances.

“These are comedies, and good ones,” she said.  “There’s humor that everyone will enjoy.”

Both plays are in English, Vasconi noted, as the Lyric Theatre has chosen to present an English version of Puccini’s opera, originally written in Italian.

“A Hand of Bridge” (1959), which Vasconi said gives you a lot to think about for only being 10 minutes [long], revolves around four people playing the card game bridge.

Throughout the course of the work, each player performs an aria about what they are thinking— thoughts that range from the most troubling relationship problems to questions of fashion.

“Gianni Schicchi” (1918) is a comedy about greed based upon a scene from “Dante’s Inferno.”

The performances will be the culmination of a semester’s worth of work by the Lyric Theatre.

Nick Roman, a sophomore music education major who also is a member of Lyric Theatre, said the hardest part of putting these performances together was lining individual parts up with the other singers.

“The rhythms were especially difficult, but we pulled through,” he said.

Vasconi said that people often forget that, unlike most symphonies, operas follow a story.

“These are often really good stories, [with messages] that are still true today,” she said.

For those who have never experienced an opera before, Vasconi said the performances of the Butler Lyric Theatre are easily relatable for the audience.

Miranda Stover, a sophomore biology major, said she has never been to an opera but is interested in going just to try it because she enjoys art and music.

The performances are Nov. 2 to 4 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 5 at 3 p.m.

They will be held at the Fairview Presbyterian Church located within walking distance from campus at 4609 N. Capitol Avenue.